At the end of 2022, the Ilim group regained its leadership among the logging companies in Russia, bypassing its main competitor, Segezha Group, which has a harvesting volume of comparison from 2021 fell by 16 percent. At the same time, the Ilim group, registered in St. Petersburg, entered the top three business leaders in the Northern capital in terms of revenue, which amounted to almost half a trillion rubles, or rather, 487.4 billion.
According to this indicator, loggers were second only to the grocery retailer Lenta. True, this undoubted success of St. Petersburg loggersheaded by a billionaire Zakhar Semushkin, did not please the inhabitants of Siberia and other regions of the presence of the Ilim group: in social networks and local media, numerous caustic comments about this holding appeared on social networks and local media about the high income of this holding. Their essence boils down to the fact that the company, carried away by making a profit, is in no hurry to invest in the infrastructure of the territories where timber is being harvested and new production facilities are emerging.
Where did Ilim go…
“In the summer of the same 2023, the Deputy Mayor of Ust-Ilimsk Edward Simonov he greatly thanked the governor for the “opportunity to negotiate” with “Ilim” on the current repair of the roadway “on Partizanskaya Street from the bridge to the intersection with Bratskaya Street.” Do you feel the amazing comparison of volumes? Billions of profits, millions of cubic meters of logging, and here is a humiliating gratitude for the ongoing, not even major repairs of a piece of road in Ust-Ilimsk? – ironically Irkutsk media resource Babr-24.
But in Bratsk, where the pulp and paper plant of the Ilim group does not ozonize the air, to put it mildly, the company refused to spend money on the reconstruction of Kirov Street, limiting itself to financing the project, the implementation of which is now being postponed until next year, and this will happen only if if there is money.
However, not only Siberians were accused of low social responsibility of the company’s businessmen: “Where Ilim went, as a rule, there are no settlements left there – Ilim does not need forest settlements. Four skidder operators provide the same job as our 20 forest machine operators. We get highly productive jobs, high tax efficiency, but a dead territory without a population.”– the Minister of Forestry of the Kirov Region once criticized the company.
Courts and troubled cases
The fact that the Ilim Group is among the industry leaders not only in terms of revenue and harvested timber, but also in terms of the number of environmental scandals has long been known. At the same time, the company likes to sue, not wanting to recognize even symbolic fines for damage caused to nature. Here is just one example: in 2016-17, one of the subdivisions of the Ilim group launched a vigorous activity on the hunting grounds with an area of 30,000 hectares, greatly simplifying the task of local rangers – no game or, accordingly, poachers are now found in these places. The Ministry of the Forest Complex of the Irkutsk Region did not appreciate the “useful initiative” of the loggers and turned to the Baikal Environmental Prosecutor’s Office, which fined the Ilim Group 13 million rubles – an amount, according to local environmentalists, more than modest. Nevertheless, the company categorically refused to compensate for the damage: the lawyers of the Ilim group fought in courts to the last, refusing to even recognize the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, and only the Constitutional Court of Russia put an end to this lawsuit, refusing to accept a complaint about the allegedly violated constitutional rights of the owners of the company .
And this is far from the only case when the Ilim group categorically refused to acknowledge the damage caused to the environment. The situation in Bratsk looks indicative, where, during an audit organized by the Interregional Department of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources, it was found that as a result of unscheduled shutdowns of emission filters at several sources, chlorine emission standards were exceeded by 2.9 times. Not wanting to pay a fine, the lawyers of the Ilim group managed to challenge the results of the audit in the Arbitration Court of the Irkutsk Region, and even defend this decision in the appellate instance, and only the Arbitration Court of the East Siberian District overturned the decision and sent it for a new consideration. Ilim also tried to challenge the conclusions of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources regarding the pollution of the Vikhorevka River in the Bratsk District. Due to emissions from the local pulp and paper mill, the surface of the taiga river was covered with thick foam, a sharp chemical smell appeared, and fish began to die en masse.
The company refused to voluntarily pay compensation for the destroyed river, and only at the request of the environmental prosecutor’s office did the court recover 7.5 million rubles from the giant of the pulp and paper industry, owned by the Ilim group, although, according to environmentalists, the damage amounted to much more serious amounts. But the company’s lawyers managed to minimize it in court. In a word, the case is “muddy”, moreover. in the truest sense…
It seems that this is the policy of the company – instead of spending money on modernizing treatment facilities and repairing damage to the environment, hire expensive lawyers and start litigation. “It seems easier for such giants to deduct several million from time to time and, in the pursuit of super profits, continue to poison both fish in the rivers and people in cities,” the brothers believe.
However, the company seems to be saving not only on environmental programs. In July of this year, just a few days after the pulp and paper mill was opened with pomp in Ust-Ilimsk, a 32-year-old cook of the cooking and washing shop died of burns at the enterprise. And this is far from an isolated case.
On January 12, 2022, in Ust-Ilimsk, at the industrial site of the Ilim plant under construction, a shift worker-electric and gas welder of a contracting organization died as a result of a construction cradle falling from a 37-meter height. In November 2021, an explosion caused by an oxygen leak at the Ilim pulp and paper mill in the same Ust-Ilimsk killed five people. On December 22, 2020, all in the same Ust-Ilimsk, six Ilim employees were injured due to the release of hydrogen sulfide, two of them ended up in intensive care.
On August 28, 2019, on the territory of the timber processing plant of the Ilim group in Bratsk, during the repair of pumping equipment in one of the shops, three repairmen received chemical burns when liquor was released from the pipeline … And similar stories that happened in recent years at the enterprises of the Ilim group only in Bratsk and Ust-Ilimsk you can bring a dozen.
Until recently, the Ilim group, as you know, was controlled not only by the chairman of the board of directors of the Ilim group, Zakhar Semushkin, and members of the board of directors Michael And Boris Zingarevich American company International Paper. Accordingly, the lion’s share of funds went abroad. It can also be assumed that the overseas founders of the company were little concerned about the social problems of the Russian regions in which their company worked, and, accordingly, the working conditions of Russians who work at the enterprises of the Ilim group. But after the well-known geopolitical events, Semushkin and Zingarevichi were forced to get rid of their American partners, at least as was reported in a number of media. According to some sources, the amount of “compensation” for overseas partners amounted to about half a billion dollars. But, having become a “purely Russian” company, the Ilim group, alas, so far, it seems, is not going to change anything in its policy. True, on the official website of the Ilim group of the company, American businessmen are still listed as members of the Board of Directors of the Ilim group, and continue to smile serenely at the Russians from the photos posted on the main page
Or maybe everything is still the same?